Choosing the Right Cloud Provider

As IT systems are externalized, selecting the right cloud provider has become critical for success when focusing your sights on the long-term. 

It is no secret that the market is saturated with many options and decisions for you to choose from – with tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon at the forefront, all the way to smaller service providers offering similar services. So how do you make the right choice for your own specific set of needs?

There are various considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right cloud service provider, here are our top suggestions to keep in mind when making this monumental decision for your business.

STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATIONS

After establishing that you need a cloud provider, it is important to begin to decipher what is at the forefront of your business needs – and selecting a provider that matches those standards could be helpful for you aligning your goals. For example, if security is a high need on your list, look for service providers that hold accredited certifications like the government’s Cyber Essentials Scheme

In addition to security, there are various other certifications, standards, and best practices that you can sift through to find the right provider to match their standards of business to the standards in which your current business operates.

RELIABILITY AND PERFORMANCE

When selecting the right service provider, you will want to ensure that they are transparent in their reliability of handing over any and all information that you feel prevalent to lay eyes on prior to signing a contract. 

While knowing how well the performance of your cloud provider operates is important, it is also important to have reports of what happens when there is planned or unplanned downtime. Ensuring that the provider has a clear and consistent line of communication to customers for these events is paramount in the success of choosing a provider – after all, we are not seeking perfection, as downtime is inevitable – but rather it is how the downtime is handled that counts.

Having a proper plan for disaster recovery will help you understand the provider’s escalation process – ensure that you have access to information about data recovery that includes processes like data sources, backup, integrity checks, scheduling, etc. 

Inquire about what is covered in the umbrella terms and conditions, and consider purchasing additional risk insurance if necessary.

VENDOR LOCK-IN, MIGRATION SUPPORT, AND EXIT PLANNING 

One consideration when selecting your cloud provider is to ensure that vendor lock–in is not on their company radar. Vendor lock-in is when a customer cannot easily transition to a competitor, which is typically the result of technologies that do not easily transfer from one vendor to the next.

One way to ensure that you are avoiding vendor lock-in is to ensure that your chosen provider has limited proprietary technology which limits your ability to transition away.

As such it is important to know your exit strategy before signing a contract – along with their data storage, the state in which it will be in, and how you will access your data upon leaving.

SCALABILITY

Scalability is an important consideration when choosing a cloud provider, as it impacts the provider’s ability to handle increases in both workload or demand without having a negative impact on performance. 

When evaluating a cloud provider’s scalability, take into consideration the following factors. Does your provider offer elastic computing resources that can be scaled up or down based on demand? Does the provider offer the ability to distribute incoming traffic across multiple servers providing effective load balancing? Does the provider provide global infrastructure?

A cloud provider that has the ability to scale up or down quickly is a provider that can accommodate your needs most effectively.

SECURITY

While choosing a cloud provider, security should be a main consideration on your list. The cloud is responsible for protecting your data and your company infrastructure, so any breach in security could result in major consequences like: data loss, reputational damage, and even legal liabilities. 

Paying attention to a cloud provider that uses encryption to protect data both in transit and rest, ensuring that the provider has top physical security measures in place like video surveillance or biometric access controls, and confirming that a proper incident response plan is in place will help you filter security measures within the provider’s capabilities, and thus keeping your infrastructure protected.

LOCATION

When considering your cloud provider, you should not only ensure that your provider has global infrastructure, but take into account additional factors to ensure efficiency in data transmission for your company or clients as it relates to their geographical location.

Factors like latency which covers the distance between the cloud provider’s data center and your users or applications can impact the latency or delay in data transmission, which directly impacts performance. Additional considerations like data sovereignty laws, compliance requirements for different countries and regions, as well as geographical awareness which impacts disaster probability and response factors should be heavily weighed as well.

COST

It is no surprise that cost is one of the major factors when selecting the right cloud provider, because not only is the cloud vital to the function of your company, but it is a serious investment for organizations. Keeping your company’s budget and financial goals at the forefront, many of the aforementioned factors play a role in cost, too.

For example, knowing the right model of scalability within a cloud provider is important – as a scale up can result in increased prices. If you are able to manipulate the sliding scale, you can control your costs with more ease. In addition to being aware of their sliding scale of pricing, knowing if there are any hidden costs or fees like data transfer fees will be crucial to ensure your company is not hit with any hidden charges. 

Finding a provider that fits within your company’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) when considering all of the additional “costs” you may incur like: migration, training, integration, and maintenance – as well as shopping around the competitive pricing market for the right provider with the best value for your money will help you optimize your investment in cloud services.

IN CONCLUSION

Thinking about multiple factors when selecting the right cloud provider for your company is a process that should include both soft and hard factors. By establishing the terms of your contract, knowledge of their systems and processes, as well as reliability and performance, and taking into account testimonials from current customers – you can ensure that what you are signing on for is the best for your business in the long term.

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